Saturday, July 07, 2007

Monsoons, Maredumilli

Occurs belatedly that I said I was going to Maredumilli, went, had a wonderful time and never said anything about it.

It was just as I had predicted. We were moving straight into the path of the depression exactly on the day it crossed the coast and we spent a considerable part of the three days either getting wet or trying not to.

Rajahmundry was mostly spent at the train station, organising tarpaulins for the luggage. A brief glimpse of the Godavari and the famous bridges across it and soon we were hurtling along to Maredumilli. The tarpaulins were well worth the wait, because soon enough the heavens opened. Car windows were rolled up but fat droplets sneaked in anyway.

This patch of Andhra has some of the finest forests in the state and they look unbelievably beautiful in the rain… we sighed at every turn. The camp site was a lovely spot. On a slight hillock with the Valamuru stream curling around it. About a dozen tents neatly arranged. The facilities however were rudimentary and every meal was brought in from elsewhere. Not having coffee – or failing that, tea – first thing in the morning is more basic than I like.

Dry enough to begin with, the tents got progressively damper around the edges; and what with all our sodden stuff hanging from tent openings or draped over packs… well, it was wet. Then there were meals. There was no concrete structure at the camp site, and meals were had under this lovely machaan built around a Mangifera indica. Here we stood huddled as we ate, being dripped on from between the planks above us. The generator lights attracted insects but we tucked in generously, casually plucking out insects from our food as we went.

The stream I mentioned had a little low bridge over it. Two days of incessant rain later, the water had risen and sloshed cheerfully over the bridge. We, who had just pulled on our socks and shoes, sat down to take them off again to cross over. Incredibly nice to walk the bridge with water swirling around the ankles, though. Good we didn’t know it when we dangled our feet in its waters but the stream is supposed to have quite a few crocodiles.

Birding in these circumstances was surprisingly good, because when it did stop raining for even half hour stretches, the birds came out in plentiful numbers. At least five lifers for me: the Large Yellow-naped Woodpecker, Crimson Sunbird, the Orange-throated Green Pigeon, the Lorikeet and the Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch. As we settled ourselves in our jeeps to head back to Rajahmundry, the sun came out. Of course it would!

People back home were worried, we learnt later, because there was flooding in Kurnool and elsewhere, with loss of lives and property. Families exchanged phone calls for news and everyone wondered at our sanity in going off to the wild at such a time. Fortunately we encountered no such troubles and came back in blithe ignorance of what was happening elsewhere. Much fun came.


Rajeev said...

Crimson Sunbird? In Greek and Latin if you please.

Sheetal said...

Ah, the Matthew man! In Greek and Latin, then: Aethopyga siparaja